December 12th

These blog posts are thinning out to say the least, partly because I'm busy, and partly because I've already said a lot of things I wanted to. Which is better, repeating yourself endlessly, or staying silent once you've said your piece?

Quote of the Week

  • "This house has been far out at sea all night, |The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills, |Winds stampeding the fields under the window |Floundering black astride and blinding wet |Till day rose; then under an orange sky |The hills had new places, and wind wielded |Blade-light, luminous black and emerald, |Flexing like the lens of a mad eye." - Ted Hughes, Wind

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Anne Frank

Whomever who hasn't been moved by this young girl after reading her diary is a hard person to reach indeed.

The story of Anne Frank is that of a young Jewish girl in WW2 Europe. To escape the Nazis, she and her family moved from Frankfurt to Holland, and then went into hiding in a small building where she lived with seven others for more than two years. At the age of fifteen, she was found by the Nazis, deported to a concentration camp, and died from typhus. Among the eight who were in hiding, only her father Otto Frank survived. Her diary, which she had kept since before she went into hiding, was later published by her father, and has been read by millions.

Reading the diary is remarkable for its record of Anne's growth as a person. Normally, people keep their thoughts to themselves, or share it with their most trusted friends. In Anne's case, she decided to commit her thoughts and feelings to paper, with no intention of showing the diary to anyone - and as a result, we do need to guess at what she says, nor imagine what she may have hidden from view - Anne pours out her heart and soul, and this makes the diary a work of honesty and pureness that far surpasses the profit-driven writing of many authors today.

Anne's self-honesty takes its toll on her, she never avoids thinking about something even though it may be painful. It is easy to dismiss an unpleasant idea - we've all faced times when, confronted by the truth, we simply say to ourselves "ah, forget it!", rather than admitting our mistakes. Sometimes, we do it to the extent that we believe our own lies. Anne at times appears to do this, but does in fact know what she has done, and does her best to correct it. We therefore do not only see a person who knows who she is, but also her transformation from an adolescent girl into a young woman - all the more tragic when we already know what happens at the end. Anne never grew to be the lady she was trying so hard to be.

Every other writer is aware of the invisible audience who reads their work, and therefore is careful to pick out a path which they want the reader to walk with them. The distinction between what a person thinks and what they want the audience to see is not a very important one if one records an event or a poem, but when the topic is about the self it is fundamentally different. What one sees in Anne is not the exterior, superficial personality that she puts on for others, but the deep, inner personality that she hides from everyone save her diary.

My friends know that my appetite has never wavered, even when I witnessed open-heart surgery and when I dissected a body. The one time I completely lost my appetite for food was after I visited the Anne Frank House, and saw where this young girl had lived, and where her fate was sealed when the SS came for her.

I don't think I can put into words the sadness I felt, but it was magnified by two things: the fact that six million other Jews were purged during the holocaust, and that people are still subject to the terrible persecution that was visited upon these people, along with seventy million others who died throughout the Second World War.

The world has received enough messages about the brutality of war. We pledge to each other, "the tragedy which befell Anne Frank must never be allowed to happen again." Why, then, are we still killing each other?

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Love: Hope and Fear (part III)

He almost jumped. This was the first piece of solid evidence she had given him. But why now? And why had she inexplicably ended up with Liam when he was away? More text appeared.

i don’t why,
but i thought you were going to tell me that night.

Pause.

so i got liam instead,
because i was afraid you’d ask me for an answer,
and i wasn’t ready to tell you yet.


Oh. His heart sank. Well, he knew the answer now.

oh…

He was about to say something, but forgot what it was. More text appeared.

you all right over there?


No, not really. But he wasn’t going to spoil it for her either. She was happy; he’d sort himself out later. He tried to put a brave face on it.

yea, i'm ok
i'd feel better if i had a Porsche
but yea, otherwise i'm good


Shit, he thought. He had brushed her off. Shit! The screen didn’t change for a while, then showed that Anne was typing. Oh God, he thought.

you know, nathan,


More typing.

you like to face your problems alone,
and i respect you for it.


Pause.

but you don’t always have to be the outsider.
i want you to know you can talk to me about it.


Oh God, he thought again. He put his head in his hands and looked wearily at the screen. Anne continued typing.

you were the next person i wanted as a boyfriend.
ever since you helped me get away from those drunks,
i knew you’d take good care of me.
i really hope that helps, nathan.


Second best, he grimaced. Well, if second best is all you can be, it’s all you can be. He badly wanted to get away from her, but he couldn’t leave her hanging.

well

thanks
i guess


His gut twisted.

but that just kinda makes it worse, you know

i’m grateful and all

but well…

yeah.


oh, nathan,
i'm sorry i had to tell you like this…


Frustration. A brief flash of anger. How the hell else were you planning to tell me? No, wipe it away. Life is painful enough as it is. He tried to reassure.

it's ok
i know you’re trying to help

and i appreciate it

really


thank you for understanding.

there aren’t that many people who would take this the right way


heh
yeah i'm a freak like that


truth is it hurts

but blaming someone doesn’t make the pain go away

you just end up spreading more pain, you know?


that’s another reason i liked you so much


even though liam and i…
we have something that you and i
well, you and i just don’t have


Oh God. Sadness began welling up, the same horrible, wrenching feeling he felt the last time he spoke to her in the dining hall. Why is she doing this to me? He forced himself to look at the next line of text. Read it, dammit! She’s still your friend!

we’re still best friends,
i want you to know that

sometimes…


Pause. More fumbling text.

sometimes i feel you understand me better than him


Tears, he could feel tears rolling down his cheeks. Why did she choose him over me? He reached for the keyboard.

thanks


He didn’t want to think anymore. He just wanted to get out of there, away from Anne and the pain and confusion she had brought down on him, as fast and as far as his legs would take him. He typed in a frenzy.

listen
i gotta go


oh…


i want you to know i'm not mad at you, ok?
right now i just need to clear my head


ok…


i'll be all right in a bit.
i hope you guys are good
bye


Anne started typing, but he didn’t wait for her reply and shut the computer down. He went into his bedroom, locked the door, and wept.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Love: Hope and Fear (part II)

Oh, a voice said in his brain, sounding almost relieved. Oh well. I guess that settles it then, she has a boyfriend. He stared dumbly at the screen. Problem solved, the voice continued on, you can’t have her, time to go play some videogames now. You’ve still not finished that one Fred lent you, and he wants it back by next week.

Despite the good advice, he continued to stare at the text. It stared rudely back at him, and then he realised that no matter how good he was at staring matches he would lose against a computer screen. He also realised that Anne was still waiting for him to reply to her text. Hurriedly, he typed:

congratulations
isn’t liam that guy you introduced me to at that really weird bar


Then, realising that might be taken as an insult (he was still deciding if he wanted it to be), he hurriedly added:

the 2nd year right?

More text appeared.

nathan, be nice
:P

She saw through his 'default' sarcasm. He breathed a sigh of relief as she continued typing.

yeah,
he took care of me that night i got drunk.
you remember
the week before Christmas at the union?

He remembered that night. Anne, Liam, himself and about three others had gone out, and she had gotten fantastically drunk. He wanted to bring her back to her room, but she uncharacteristically demanded that Liam do it instead, and that Nathan and the others should enjoy the rest of the night. Nathan helped her into Liam’s car with a look that said he would bash his head in if he did anything to her. She called up the next day to apologise, and told him that yes, Liam had cleaned her up and put her in bed without incident. She had also destroyed Liam’s table lamp in her drunken stupor, and Nathan found the image quite entertaining.

He racked his brain to remember more about Liam. Second year, same course as himself and Anne, which part of England did he come from? Didn’t matter really. He seemed all right, though Nathan had somehow disliked him the first time they met. That, he acknowledged, was jealousy. Later he did his best to treat Liam as one of the group.

He sighed. He trusted Anne’s judgement, though it left him confused at times like these. He typed:

yeah, only because you wouldn’t let me!
:(

sorrie, i was a bit drunk at the time

He laughed.

lol, that’s the understatement of the year
:P

oho,
you’ve been licked plenty more than i have

have not
we both know i'm crazier sober than when i'm drunk

besides, i wasn’t ready.

He tried for a moment to decipher the cryptic reply. What did she mean?

eh?
for what?

Her reply seemed to be taking a while, she was typing, then stopped for a moment before typing again. After some moments of this he realised that she was finding it difficult to put her thoughts into words. The text finally came through.

we had something, didn’t we…

To be continued.